Sheep conditioned aversion: A sustainable alternative for vineyard floor management

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Research Paper 01/11/2020
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Sheep conditioned aversion: A sustainable alternative for vineyard floor management

Paul Ruiz Santos, Sebastián Martinez, Daiana Baldassari, Baldomero Fuentes, Bruno Beretta, José Manuel Verdes, Andrés Coniberti
Int. J. Agron. Agri. Res.17( 5), 1-9, November 2020.
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The wine industry is facing new environmental challenges, particularly with respect to herbicide use. Integration of sheep into vineyards provides an opportunity to maximize landscape level production and reduce environmental impact of vineyard floor management. However, due to the high palatability of vine leaves integration of sheep during the key periods for grapevine production (growing season) is rare. The use of Lithium Chloride (LiCl) has proven to be useful for conditioning aversion influencing ruminants’ diet. This paper analyses the use of LiCl as a mean to control the damage produced by ewes on vineyards while grazing. The sample consisted of 20 Milchschaf female sheep all subdue to a preconditioning period of consumption. Subsequently, the conditioning period included exposure to fresh vine leaves. Once the entire sample consumed this type of leaves, half of them were exposed to an aqueous solution of LiCl (200mg/kg). The effects of LiCl were monitored for a period of six days in a row after administrating the solution, then monthly for three months. It was proven that LiCl caused a significant decrease in the consumption of vine leaves. We suggest that the aversion conditioned by LiCl consists of a useful tool for reducing the damage provoked on vine leaves made by ewes while grazing, thus stimulating joint agricultural production.


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